Any minute now
It is 12:00 am. One minute after 11:59 pm and I wish I didn't have to count the minutes or bother my father. Over an hour ago, when I first felt the pain, even though I really didn't want to, I had to call my father to tell him I needed his help. That is when I started staring at the illuminated clock on top of my dresser. My eyes don’t hurt, but I cannot close them and I hear my heartbeat in between my ears. When he picked up the phone he said, “What's wrong sweetie,” and he said it with fatherly love, and of course I believed him, even though I could hear what he was clinging to beyond the phone; the jokers, the laughter, the back slapping, the clanging of glass, all of it adding up to white noise and lies. Lies for some. Some that don't understand. Not me. I understand. The Mona Lisa Bar and Grill is home; the place he goes to take a load off, eat his meals, fraternize with Jack Daniels, and forget.
“I'll be right there, I promise.” He always says “I promise” automatically now, because I used to beg, “Do you promise?” until I stopped. I stopped because I was afraid if he ever broke his promise that I would have to call him a liar to his face, and that is not something you say to someone you love. And besides the way he says “I promise” is no different than the way anyone says “See you later”, when they know they will never see that person again. Does that make someone a horrible, terrible person; a liar? Does it? No it doesn't.
The pain began when I stopped reading in bed, not before. Before I went to bed I had a very wonderful day. A day that almost made me forget. I went to school, I went to gymnastics, I went to my friend’s house, we did our math homework, and her mother made us a meatloaf that had cheese in the middle and we had cherry ice cream sundaes for desert. I walked home alone and the house was dark when I got there. The door was unlocked like it always is. I tiptoed up the stairs, I took a shower, put on my pajamas, and went into my room to read. On page 101 of To Kill A Mockingbird, I heard a scream downstairs and the sound of breaking glass. And then I remembered. I was hoping my mother forgot about me, and she would stay downstairs with her rage, so I put my book away and turned off the light and that is when the pain started. There are many nights I can’t sleep, but this night is different. I'm pretty sure people can't sleep when they are having trouble breathing, unless they wind up not breathing at all, but then they would be dead. When my father finally gets here, and I know he will, he will take me to the hospital and they will ask me what's wrong and I have to figure out what to say because I don't know how to explain it other than the pain is everywhere. Especially on my chest. It has been getting progressively worse since the phone call. It feels like a box of bricks was dropped on top of me now, and I want to move my arms and legs to push them off, but I can't because I am paralyzed. Maybe I am really dying this time and my father will find me in the bed dead, but I refuse to believe that is the way this is all going to end. He will rescue me any minute now and he will know to sneak in the house because he's afraid of her too, but he is also brave because he has more to be afraid of than I do because he's not supposed to come in here. Brave and also lucky that he doesn't have to sleep here anymore like I do.
When I ask him why he doesn't take me with him, he says his apartment is too small and he says when he gets enough money he will get a bigger place for us, and I believe him, because I see the tears stuck in his eyes when he tells me this. When I tell him after he picks me up what she has done to me, the tears do not stay stuck. They roll down his cheeks and into his lap. This is how I know how much he loves me, besides what he tells me every time he sees me. “Do you know I love you very much, and I promise someday everything is going to be okay.” Nobody else tells me that and nobody else understands. And even if he is late, he always comes when I call. He never treats me the way my mother does, and he never even gets mad at me, and that is why I try hard not to bother him, but tonight I was just too afraid of dying. He will be here. I know he will be here soon…..Any minute now, because he loves me very much and someday everything is going to be okay.